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Wal-Mart Announces Sponsorship for 2008 
Student Theatre Arts Recognition Scholarship Program; 
Dowling College Becomes a Partner

Port Jefferson, NY (Oct 2, 2008) - The STARS Awards, joined by representatives from numerous Northern Brookhaven school districts, local government, and parents announced that the newly re-christened STARS Awards (Student Theatre Arts Recognition Scholarship Awards) - formally the Teeny Awards - will kick off the 2008-09 high school theatrical season with a $20,000 grant for scholarships made possible by Wal*Mart. In addition, Dowling College becomes the latest partner to sponsor college scholarships for award winners and the number of participating schools jumped by four.

At a ceremony held at Port Jefferson High School in Port Jefferson, NY, a $20,000 grant from Wal*Mart was officially presented to Lori Anne De Iulio Casdia (Board of Directors, Theatre Programs for the Arts Council and Executive Director, STARS AWARDS) and Allan Varela (Executive Director, Arts Council), as officials including Dr. Max Riley, Superintendent of Schools of Port Jefferson, Michael Caravello, Director of Music and Fine Arts of Port Jefferson, Diana Cook, Director of Fine Arts Middle Country School District, and local arts leaders took part in the presentation to the scholarship program.

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This marks the second consecutive year Wal*Mart has partnered with the STARS Awards to honor high school Performers and Technicians while advancing arts in education. In 2007, Wal-Mart's philanthropic efforts in the State of New York totaled more than $10 million, including $380,000 on Long Island.

“We are grateful to Wal*Mart for their continued and generous support of the STARS Awards. This endowment allows the Council to realize an important community initiative,” said STARS Awards Executive Director Lori Anne De Iulio Casdia. “The STARS Awards recognize and celebrate the talented theatre students across Northern Brookhaven and encourage them to pursue their dreams. By stimulating local interest in this program, we hope to develop an understanding of the value of the arts in education in a well rounded school curriculum, raise the bar on theatre education and promote increased attendance and community pride at our school productions,” 
Modeled after Broadway's Tony Awards®, the STARS Awards burst onto the education and theater scene in a successful 2007 launch that resulted in 25 award winners and 75 nominees from 7 of the participating high schools. The high schools participating in the program are from the STARS Awards coverage area, which stretches from the Brookhaven/Smithtown border east to the Rocky Point school district, and from the north shore south to the Long Island Expressway.

“Wal-Mart is proud to support the STARS Awards and to help provide an opportunity for many Brookhaven students to earn scholarships and recognition for their hard work.” says Philip Serghini, Public Affairs Senior Manager for Wal-Mart. “This is Wal-Mart's second year as a sponsor, and we are very encouraged to see the program continue to grow and reach even more schools and students in the Town of Brookhaven in the year ahead.”

The success of the STARS Awards resulted in additional high schools, Longwood and Sachem North, Sachem East and William Floyd, joining the program. “Longwood is thrilled to participate in the STARS Awards this year, “ said Dr. John J. Gallagher, Director of Fine Arts for the Longwood School District. “Because the program is designed to highlight talented students who are active in theatre, we are proud to showcase the dedication our Longwood students have to their craft. We look forward to a strong partnership with the STARS Awards for many years to come.”

“We are very excited to be participating in the STARS Awards this year. We are constantly setting new goals and striving for excellence in our department. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to be recognized and awarded for their hard work and dedication to the theatre program. This is also a great way to instill community pride and help highlight all the positive ways theatre education impacts students' lives.” proclaimed Erika I Licausi, Coordinator of Fine Arts for the William Floyd School District.

The long list of partners supporting the STARS Awards, such as Suffolk County Community College, and Stony Brook University continues to grow. The 2008-09 season marks the first year's participation of Dowling College in the Student Theatre Arts Scholarship Recognition program.

“Dowling College is proud to support and applaud the talented bright participants of the STARS Awards. These fine young men and women have proven they have what it takes to achieve stardom not only on the stage but also in the classroom and beyond. As they continue their education and move forward in their careers they will set the mark that will guarantee our communities and our nation a successful future, “ Robert Gaffney, President, Dowling College,

“Theatre Arts develop in students many important life skills and qualities including: communication skills, self esteem, teamwork, improvisational skills, and creative problem solving. The New York State Education Department has added Theatre Arts to its learning standards, understanding its importance to an academic curriculum,” said Casdia.

Superintendent of Port Jefferson School District, Dr. Max Riley said, “The Port Jefferson School District has a long standing tradition of supporting the arts. A major objective of the district is to enhance our students' opportunities for growth and exploration by bringing in new and innovative programs. Such a program as the STARS Awards motivates our aspiring young thespians to continue in the arts and fulfill dreams. It is a wonderful honor that the creativity of our staff and the talent and hard work of our students has been recognized”
“As a parent of a nominee and winner of the First Annual Teeny Awards, I would like to express my appreciation of this outstanding program. I think that the concept of recognizing high school students in all aspects of theatre arts and the awarding of college scholarships was long overdue. It became apparent that the accomplishment of being nominated brought great honor to all of these students. To me the greatest aspect of the STARS Awards is the recognition of the talent of each student and their contribution to the arts and their schools,” added John Steiner.

Judges will attend high school plays and musicals at the participating Long Island high schools, and assess a variety of skills and disciplines. The top scoring students will be announced as the nominees, and attend a gala awards ceremony in June, where the winners will be announced and presented with an elegant etched glass trophy and scholarships. In addition to acting awards, categories in drama, comedy and musical will also include: choreography, set design, lighting design, poster art, and stage management.

For more information about the STARS Awards, email us at lorianne@stars-awards.com.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Every week, more than 127 million customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam's Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $245 million to local communities in the United States, including more than $11.7 million in New York. To learn more, visit  www.walmartstores.com or www.walmartfoundation.org.
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